Lhe populations of the G7 countries will be fully vaccinated by the end of the year. At the current rate, poor countries will have to wait sixty years for their entire population to be poor. Covid vaccines are emerging as the new burning symbol of global inequality. Less than 1% of the African population fully vaccinated and huge profits for pharmaceutical companies hanging on their patents and pushing up prices: this is the current situation.
Scientists are clear: vaccine inequalities are dangerous, we must vaccinate the whole planet in the next twelve months to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic because this virus knows no borders. By leaving entire regions poorly vaccinated, we allow the virus to spread, favoring the emergence of new variants potentially resistant to current vaccines.
Very lucrative monopolies
However, currently, anti-Covid vaccines are privatized by a handful of pharmaceutical companies. Thanks to exclusive rights linked to intellectual property, the latter enjoy a total monopoly on the “recipe for vaccines”, artificially limiting their production. Thanks to the patents they hold, they set the rules of the game, decide freely who can or cannot produce the vaccines and who can buy them and at what price. These monopolies are very lucrative. This pandemic has already killed nearly 4 million people, it has also created “vaccine billionaires”, foremost among them the French Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna.
As early as October 2020, India and South Africa, joined by a hundred southern countries, filed within the World Trade Organization (WTO) a request for the temporary lifting of patents on all the products necessary for contain the pandemic. Production capacities exist and patents have already been made multi-profit, especially since more than 100 billion dollars (more than 82 billion euros) of public money have been invested in research against Covid-19. But, for six months, the countries of the South have been facing the bloc of countries of the North who protect the interests of pharmaceutical companies at all costs.
Like the AIDS years, the pharmaceutical lobby is at work to protect a model that guarantees them huge profits. History is repeating itself before our eyes: thanks to scientific prowess, we have developed a solution to get us out of this pandemic, but, however, the rich countries prefer to submit to the blackmail of the big pharmaceutical groups. As a result, people continue to die from Covid-19 while we have the solution to end it. This selfishness has not always been: Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, inventors of the polio vaccine [dans les années 1950], refused to patent their discovery. Our common horizon must be to save lives, not to maximize profits by raising prices.
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